If you are an EU national or a member of a country within the European Economic Area then you do not need to apply for a student visa in order to study in Belgium, you do however need to meet certain criteria including: being enrolled at an approved institution, having sufficient income in order to support yourself whilst living in Belgium and evidence of comprehensive health cover or insurance.
If you are a national of a country outside of the EU/EEA then you may need a visa – although some countries including the USA are permitted to enter Belgium if their stay is no longer than 90 days without a visa.
Once you have confirmed your place at a Belgian university then you need to contact the Belgian Embassy or Consulate in your country who will determine whether or not you need to apply for a student visa.
As well as meeting the same criteria as EU students, international students applying for a visa may also need to provide: a police certificate of good conduct/confirmation of no convictions, proof of qualifications or equivalent qualifications to permit you to study or an employers statement.
There are plenty of options for students looking for accommodation in Belgium although the price brackets can differ wildly depending on where in the country you want to study.
There are plenty of private options for students to choose from who will allow a one-year lease which is ideal for international students; these can be between €150 and €400 per month depending on location.
Homestays are a popular option with short-term students who are not staying in the country to study a full programme. These can be assigned by the university of privately and allow you to experience Belgium with a Belgian family close to your university.
In order to successfully apply to a Belgian university you will need to confirm your qualifications by getting equivalence statements; these may be different depending on where in Belgium you want to study, so liaison with you chosen institution is essential.
There is no centralised application process and each university application is submitted to the university itself. They may have their own admissions process and requirements so you should contact their admissions departments to ensure you provide the relevant and appropriate information on your application.
Education for Belgian and EU students is largely free in terms of tuition, although there is an annual registration fee that must be paid by students each year.
This varies depending on where you will be studying and at what level, but the maximum a Belgian/EU student will pay is €835. International students may also need to pay additional fees along with this registration but these fees are not permitted to exceed more than €2,000.
Financial support for international students depends on where in Belgium you are studying, with support in the French community being available to low-income students below 35 years old; in the German community student grants are needs-tested and can be between €362 and €2,469 p/year; and in the Flemish community grants are needs-tested in relation to parental income and academic achievement and can be between €250 and €3,840.
There are also a number of scholarships that are available to students around the world to take advantage of, including the Erasmus scheme which offers a number of opportunities in Belgium.